Friday, 19 June 2015

Hannibal - Primavera

If last week's season premiere of Hannibal was focused on fear and terror, then this second installment leans heavily on the opposite. Well, it might not be entirely geared around love, but it's easy to follow the episode's fascination with the human heart. Last week's excellent Antipasto ended with the sight of Anthony's body skinned, dismembered and folded into the shape of a human heart, which would seem like a fitting place to begin episode two. But, much like the premiere, we don't begin where we expect to. Rather, Primavera (titled both after an Italian pasta dish and the full version of the painting at the head of this review) opens somewhere we've already been. We watch the horrifying final events of season two's Mizumono play out again, but this time we stay in the house after Hannibal leaves, as the (metaphorical) dying feathered stag unleashes a tidal wave of blood, speeding towards the also dying Will Graham and Abigail Hobbs. It's a thrilling sequence, and as visually breathtaking as anything else this show does, but it does feel a tad unnecessary. 

I don't wish to pass anything that Bryan Fuller shows us in a show as visually and conceptually layered as Hannibal as unnecessary, but the repetition of that entire final scene just felt..misplaced. Perhaps for viewers who don't re-watch the show it might have served as a fitting reminder of how last season ended, and it unquestionably starts Primavera off with a bang; I could watch the final moments of Mizumono a hundred times and still feel my heart sink. But for those who made use of repeated viewings of the show's second season, something it really calls for, this episode doesn't really do much for it's first five minutes; it is, literally, something we've all seen before. That said, the shot of Will drowning in a frame of blood is nicely reminiscent of a similar shot of Bedelia in last week's episode, and the visual metaphor of the teacup was used more effectively here than it's ever been.

Once we cut to actual new footage, Primavera hardly puts a foot wrong. Both of the Abigail twists were genuinely surprising; first that she was still alive and second that she now only exists inside Will's mind palace. It further adds to the complexity of Will and Abigail's relationship when we understand that he knows she is dead, we see him watch her die. Both twists were handled elegantly, and Fuller actually managed to make the "person only exists in imagination" trope feel new and different this time around. It's been played before, Will used to see Abigail's father on a regular basis despite his death in the very first episode, but Abigail herself was played differently, more emotionally. Her final sequence with Will balanced plot development and emotional substance seamlessly. The introduction of Rinaldo Pazzi was also handled well, his motives for hunting Hannibal felt entirely justified mere minutes after meeting him. I also appreciated that we got to see one of the crime scenes that Hannibal left in Italy all those years ago, this show has never shied away from death and Hannibal's Primavera body display was truly unsettling. 

Primavera also succeeds in offering us arguably the most frightening sequence the show's ever presented. When that heart-shaped body started beating I nearly turned my television off, but what came after was even more horrifying. As the heart unfolded, standing up, essentially evolving into a stag as it approached Will I could almost hear my own heart beating. Brian Reitzell has stated in various interviews that when he crafts the score for a horror sequence, he attempts to make sounds audiences aren't familiar with. I won't attempt to describe the soundtrack he produced for this sequence in fear of not doing it justice, so let's efficiently say it was terrifying and leave it at that. Primavera was an entirely different episode to Antipasto, this time Hannibal himself was hardly on screen, but we needed this hour to catch up with the other side of the story. Will and Hannibal's relationship is visualised best in the form of the yin yang, both are equals that have left imprints on each other. This is going to be a very different season of Hannibal to either of the two that preceded it, and if the opening episodes are enough to go by, we're in for a darker year than ever. 

  • That teacup sequence really was stunning. Having it come together to form Will's face was a genius twist on a repeated motif. 
  • Some people have criticised this episode for focusing too much on the visuals. I don't think I could ever tire of how beautiful this show is, it finds new ways to stun me every episode. 
  • "Do you feel closer to God?" "God's not who I came here to find". 
  • "Why don't you carry your dead back to the chapel, before you find yourself among them". Will is getting darker this season too, and I love it. 
  • That ninety degree vertical panning shot was great. Even when it isn't being metaphorical, Hannibal's cinematography is beautiful. 
  • I'm still not over that stag. 

Next - Secondo

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